I was able to watch the movie in IMAX at a free movie screening sponsored by Red Carpet Crash and WB Tickets, the Monday before nationwide release. Christopher Nolan – the director – is old school when it comes to film, so he created a 70mm format for the film. I’m considering trying to track down a screening.
This side of Nolan was refreshing. I feel like his big blockbusters were merely first rounds to the main event. He has said as much in the run up to release, as he has wanted to make this movie for many years. But he felt he wasn’t professionally ready to. I’m glad he knew his limitations because a first-time director could’ve fucked it up royally.
Rather than focusing on people who actually were there, he took a safer route in terms of storytelling by focusing on three interconnected threads based on land, sea and air, while using minimal dialogue. That’s not a bad thing. Sometimes when you make a picture about a historical event that historians have picked apart and the public knows so well, artistic license is a hard sell. You may want to oversell it with dialogue or cramming in romantic relationships, and Nolan doesn’t do that with this movie.
His use of unknown actors was something straight out of the silent film era which he said influenced his approach to the film. He gets mad close when the enemy is zooming towards them. So you feel claustrophobic alongside these baby-faced soldiers who can hear shit is about to go down but they don’t know where it’s coming from.
That was my favorite part. My Dad told me that when he was in Vietnam, you could hear the missiles coming but you never knew from where or where they were going to land. But you knew instinctively to take cover. I think Nolan nailed it, and hearing the pending doom overhead was done masterfully.
Speaking of sound, I feel like the soundtrack was off-putting. I can’t explain it even after reading the press that was published when I saw the movie (haven’t read any since) and chewing on why it annoyed me for a few days. Normally when a movie relies on having no dialogue to create action for atmosphere, you have to fill in the blanks as a moviegoer. Nolan didn’t give me that chance because he and Hans Zimmer used Nolan’s pocket watch to create tension. You’ll hear it and go, I’m supposed to be scared now, so I felt it took me out of the experience slightly. I don’t like to be told to feel a certain way so obviously. I want to come to that conclusion for myself.
My knee jerk capsule review on Instagram remains the same: Dunkirk was a great picture. It may become the definitive movie version of the battle. I hope it does because there was a lot of heart and soul put into the movie. You can see it from the direction, the script, and the acting.
Give it a shot and let me know what you think in the comments.